Skype Downplays Takeover Talk

Media giant News Corp. reportedly floated a $3 billion acquisition bid for the popular VoIP developer Skype.

The U.K.-based news site The Independent, citing “well-placed sources,” reported talks broke down between the two companies last month.

Whether Skype is talking to companies, News Corp. included, about a possible acquisition remains open to speculation.

“I will neither confirm nor deny any talks with the company in question except to confirm that Skype is not for sale,” Kelly Larabee, a Skype spokeswoman, told “We do and will always formally announce completed deals.”

Officials from News Corp. were not immediately available for comment.

The report is the latest speculating on the buyout of Skype and its popular technology. The Skype client provides free Internet-based telephony service to computers using the technology, whether they are down the block or across the world.

According to the company’s Web site, Skype has been downloaded more than 146 million times since its launch, making it a free software application with big-business clout; a company that wants to make a splash in the VoIP world could do much worse than start out with the Skype name. Skype is also working on developing paid services.

The company is expected to launch public beta trials on a video phone service later this month.

Skype’s popularity, and its willingness to release its application program interfaces , has spawned a number of extensions to the software.

Designed for PC-to-PC communications, the service was expanded to include mobile phones with the introduction of iSkoot last week. iSkoot automatically forwards VoIP calls from the PC to a mobile phone, acting as a bridge between the two devices.

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